The announcement of the 62nd Ballon d’Or is knocking on the door. The tension is mounting as we inch closer to what could be a pivotal moment in a rivalry which has gone on to define a generation. The Ballon d’Or’s prominence, popularity, and importance grew in the eyes of the fans ever since it has been used as a benchmark to determine which out of Ronaldo or Messi is the better footballer. Now let’s take a look at the 5 leading contenders to win Ballon d’Or 2017:
Everything was set for Gianluigi Buffon to put an end to the Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi. All the Italian shot-stopper had to do was ensure that Juventus beat Real Madrid in the final of the UEFA Champions League. Buffon could become the first goalkeeper since the legendary Lev Yashin, and only the second shot-stopper ever, to be awarded the Ballon d’Or.
Unfortunately, things have not gone according to plan since for the 39-year-old. He announced his retirement from international football after Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Buffon’s career may not be complete without the UEFA Champions League and the Ballon d’Or.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are one of the most in-form teams in Europe. The key cog in Guardiola’s well-oiled juggernaut is none other than Kevin De Bruyne. But the Belgian playmaker is often ignored when the best players in the world are discussed, mostly due to his not-so-flamboyant and effortless style of play.
De Bruyne has been on fire this season too, contributing with several assists and goals so far. He is, without doubt, one of the best players in the world and warrants a top 5 finish in the Ballon d’Or.
Neymar took a decision in his quest to establish himself as the best in the world, and subsequently win the Ballon d’Or. He left Barcelona (the best club in the world) for world record €222m move to Paris Saint-Germain.
The Brazilian has brought some charm and audience to Ligue 1 with him. Despite coming up with some memorable performances during the course of the year, Neymar is still some way off from the two – who have dominated world football and Ballon d’Or for close to a decade now.
2. Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Argentina)
Last season, Lionel Messi’s heroics failed to help the team win enough silverware. But the Argentinean surprised football lovers after netting an unbelievable hat-trick for his national team to ensure that he gets the chance to seal his legacy with the approval of a World Cup in 2018.
The G.O.A.T. owns 5 Ballon d’Ors under his name. However, despite his heroics, goals and his moments of magic, Messi manages to only come 2nd in the final Ballon d’Or Power Rankings of 2017.
The 33-year-old played an extremely pivotal part in Real Madrid’s historic double last season. Real Madrid became the first ever team to win back-to-back UEFA Champions League titles. Despite being 33, he is showing no signs of getting old. And he looks up for at least one or two more of these beauties.
Thursday night, the Portuguese is expected to tie Messi. The two players to have won the most number of Ballon d’Or awards in history.